News / Europe

Kerry Likely to Discuss Israeli-Turkish Ties, Syria While in Turkey

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks at the State Department, April 2, 2013.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks at the State Department, April 2, 2013.
Dorian Jones
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is due to visit Turkey this weekend as part of a trip the region.  Syria is expected to be high on the agenda, as well as the ongoing efforts to mend relations between Turkey and Israel.
 
According to State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, Kerry will be seeking to build on the current rapprochement efforts between two key U.S. allies.

"By going to Istanbul first then going onto Israel, the secretary will also have an opportunity to spur both sides to continue to take steps to deepen their normalization and work well together," said Nuland.
 
Last month, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan accepted an apology from his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu for the 2010 killings by Israeli commandos of nine Turks aboard a ship seeking to break Israel’s economic blockade of Gaza. Israel has also agreed to pay compensation to the victims' families.

Secretary of State John Kerry's destinations on his upcoming trip to the Middle East.Secretary of State John Kerry's destinations on his upcoming trip to the Middle East.
x
Secretary of State John Kerry's destinations on his upcoming trip to the Middle East.
Secretary of State John Kerry's destinations on his upcoming trip to the Middle East.


For its part, Ankara has agreed to take steps to unfreeze diplomatic relations - a process observers say Secretary Kerry will be looking to expedite.

Semih Idiz, diplomatic columnist for the Turkish newspaper Taraf, warns rapprochement efforts will not be easy.
 
"There won't be much love in this relationship, because I think from the Israeli perspective, they look at the present government as Islamic and fundamentalist, and, on the other hand, from the Turkish, Erdogan and AKP [Turkey's ruling party] perspective, they look on Israel as oppressors of the Palestinians and generally as anti-Islamic and all that. But then there is practicality of the issue vis-a-vis Syria forcing them [to] push this ideological orientation to the background because the situation on the ground requires them to do so," said Idiz.

Idiz points out that the governments of Israel and Turkey, both of which share a border with Syria, have called for international intervention in the Syrian conflict.  Soli Ozel,  a lecturer at Istanbul’s Kadir Has University, points out Ankara’s strong support for the Syrian opposition against President Bashar al-Assad means there is the potential for Turkey and Israel to work closely together.

"Turkey has already insinuated itself in the Syrian matter and it wishes itself to be in the forefront, and to make sure the new regime in Syria is not one that is detrimental to Israeli security concerns or even Turkish security concerns. I think these two can cooperate. Whether they will cooperate operationally, I don’t know yet; it depends how long this goes on," said Ozel.

Syria is expected to be a key issue in Kerry’s talks with his Turkish counterpart. Ankara is likely to press for arming the Syrian opposition.  Reviving the stalled negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel is also likely to be on his agenda during his visit to Istanbul.

Diplomatic columnist Idiz says the thawing of relations between Turkey and Israel makes it possible for Ankara to play a positive role in those efforts.
 
"Now [that] it’s [Turkey] talking to all sides, there is a potential for Turkey to play a role," he said. "And I think Israel will want this, because Turkey can use its moderating influence on Hamas, for example."

The Turkish government has close ties with the Hamas leadership. But international relations expert Ozel warns those close ties means the current rapprochement efforts between Turkey and Israel is vulnerable to any major outbreak of violence between Israel and the Palestinians.
 
"Let's not say hostage, but dependent on what goes on in the West Bank, they [Turkey's leaders] cannot turn their back to the Palestinians if or maybe when the third intifada erupts," he said. "If there is an intifada and the Israelis brutally suppress [it], it's going to be very difficult for the Turkish government to maintain its relations [with Israel]."

But Ozel points out there are also powerful economic considerations that could drive rapprochement efforts between Israel and Turkey. Israel is reported to be looking at Turkey as a route for distributing newly discovered natural gas to the lucrative European market. That fits well with Ankara’s bid to become an energy hub to the region - something observers say Kerry will be keen to point out during his visit to Istanbul.

You May Like

Ukraine Purges Interior Ministry Leadership With Pro-Russian Ties

Interior Minister Avakov says 91 people 'in positions of leadership' have been fired, including 8 generals found to have links to past pro-Moscow governments More

US Airlines Point to Additional Problems of any Ebola Travel Ban

Airline officials note that even under travel ban, they may not be able to determine where passenger set out from, as there are no direct flights from Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone More

Nigerian President to Seek Another Term

Goodluck Jonathan has faced intense criticism for failing to stop Boko Haram militants More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid